Easter Meal Fellowship
Over the Good Friday and Easter weekend, different church members hosted or were guests at houses. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to know one another, one made sweeter by more relaxed COVID measures that allowed more to gather in a house.
We spoke briefly with Sarah Zimmerman, who helped to initiate and coordinate this. She shared that the Easter Meal Fellowship event was based on her own experience. Sarah explained, “It’s based on a program I enjoyed and benefited from in Washington DC called 'Around the Tables'. We invited people to participate either as a host or as guests, and then we assigned the guests to the hosts' homes. Someone asked me how I would match people, and I told her that it would actually be quite random. I’m still new here, and I’ve only been here during COVID, so there are lots of people I don’t know and names I’m completely unfamiliar with. I prayed before matching people and I prayed before I sent it, and then I just trusted that if nothing else, people have Jesus in common!”
Why a meal fellowship
The past two years have made such gatherings a challenge, and we are thankful for the chance to be able to do so! But beyond just pragmatism or doing so because we can, Sarah also shares the deeper reasons to do so. The desire is to follow a pattern we see in scripture of Christians gathering together for food and fellowship, and there are two main goals: unity and hospitality. COVID kept us all quite segregated—in our families, affinity groups, Zoom Bible studies and care groups—but this is not how God designed the church to be. The church is a body, with Christ as the head, and the more we know and love one another, the better the body functions to bring glory to the Father.
Sarah also goes on to outline how biblical hospitality also means reaching out and loving the stranger. It does not mean setting the perfect table and making the most amazing meal. We have the example of Martha and Mary in Scripture—who did Jesus scold and who did He commend? It’s about extending a welcoming hand and a listening ear.
She hopes that such meal fellowships can become more of a regular occurence, and through it, we will be encouraged to rethink our priorities and open our homes, heart and lives to other members on a regular basis. She shares, "What would it look like for us to eat half our meals with others from the church? What would it look like for us to invite our coworkers to a meal filled with other believers? What would it look like for the single people in our midst to feel welcome at our 10 years old daughter’s birthday party? What would it look like to have four races represented at your table on a regular basis? What would it look like to plan our monthly budgets with “radical” hospitality in mind? These are just a few of the thoughts we're hoping this Meal Fellowship ministry will cause us to consider."
A host's experience
Eric, who hosted one such group, shares his experience: “When Sarah went to the pulpit to ask for volunteers to host an Easter meal, I was prompted to do so, partly because we just gotten a new BBQ pit from a neighbour who found little use of it, and partly to know some new members of our church. But having volunteered, I did experience some doubts as to whether we would be infected with COVID, as cases started to rise with the relaxation of the restrictions.
In the end, God was loving and merciful, we (my wife Bernie and I) were not inflected and had precious occasion to share our conversion history and our walk with God. Most of them who came were young adults and my wife and I were humbled by how God has separated them from the world and chose them to walk in faith and righteousness. They were also amazed at our life history, how God has kept us faithful to him, and blessed us with a happy marriage despite all the trials we faced while we lived in Dubai as well as when we were young.”
A guest's sharing
Similarly, Wenxiu, who was a guest at the Hamiltons with her husband, Zexuan and daughters enjoyed the time: “We missed fellowship after two years (and counting) of this pandemic! Despite us being introverted awkward turtles, it was great being able to meet up with members of our church family, especially those whom we didn’t really know yet. I’m glad my daughters Johanna and Odelia finally got to experience another normal part of healthy church life. and we are so thankful to Thomas, Julie and their girls for being such wonderful hosts!”
Another opportunity to host or be a guest
Most, if not all, who attended the meal fellowships, would probably echo what Eric and Wenxiu shared. This is also not a once-off event. During the last weekend of May, we hope to organise another such session to allow for church members to gather again around the tables as either hosts or guests. Sarah encourages all to consider participating, saying “My hope and prayer is that it would not just be a program for 'new folks' but that we would all see it as an opportunity to live out the commands of scripture and the points of our membership covenant.”
This month's fellowship will be on 28/29 May. If you are interested to host or be a guest, you can sign up at gracebaptistchurch.sg/mealfellowship. For more information or if you have questions, contact Sarah Zimmerman at GBCtables@gmail.com.